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Palo Verde Unified School District: Documents obtained through Public Records Act may reveal truth about severance package

The public was outraged to hear that last June the district superintendent’s son  was given a $78,000 severance package as he was about to leave the Palo Verde Unified School District. His job in another district did not materialize so he did not leave or collect the severance pay. Now the district administration has finally coughed up the documents surrounding the decision so the public can learn more about the incident. -DB

The Desert Independent
Opinion
September 27, 2009
By Robert E. Jensen

Disclaimer: While based wholly upon the written, documented evidence concerning the $78,000 severance package for Jacob Jensen, this is an opinion piece. Where possible, I have included the actual, primary source documents in the form of PDF files for the community’s edification and verification. It is upon this written, documented evidence that I base my interpretation and opinion in this matter. Your interpretation and opinion also matters. Attend the October 6, 2009 Palo Verde USD Board of Education Meeting at 6 p.m. and let your voice be heard.

BLYTHE, Calif – The Palo Verde Unified School District has finally responded to a Public Records Request demanding memos, e-mails, and other documents surrounding the decision by the PVUSD Board on June 23 to give Jacob Jensen a $78,000 severance package. The settlement package was approved by the collective board in closed session (without Guith present) even though Jacob Jensen had already accepted a position as Special Ed. Director in Santa Barbara SD for a salary of $120,000 – a fact neither Jacob Jensen, nor then Superintendent (and father of Jacob) Dr. Alan Jensen, nor current Superintendent Dr. Whitney revealed to the Board. On that very same evening of June 23rd, the Santa Barbara Board of Education approved Jacob Jensen as the new Director of Special Education in that district. Thus, Jacob Jensen was to receive a very generous severance package to leave PVUSD, which he was already planning to do in order to take another job in Santa Barbara.

Jacob Jensen ultimately did not receive the $78,000 check to leave PVUSD for the Santa Barbara job, because the Santa Barbara job was withdrawn by Brian Sarvis, the Superintendent of that district. Sarvis got cold feet in response to evidence provided by former PVUSD Special Education teacher, Jeanne Ladd, that there were serious problems regarding Jacob Jensen’s handling of PVUSD’s Special Education program. Ladd’s observations of PVUSD’s Special Education program, and by extension Jacob Jensen’s job performance, were largely confirmed in a recent (mostly negative) report by Riverside County’s SELPA Director, Dr. Sue Balt.

It wasn’t until the July 7, 2009 PVUSD Board meeting that the public became aware of what can only be described as a red-handed attempt to remove $78,000 from the District’s bank accounts. Clerk of the PVUSD Board, Dr. Norm Guith, called for an investigation into the matter and demanded at the July 7th Board meeting that his fellow Board members call this behavior by “its proper name: fraud, nepotism, misuse of public funds, duplicity.” Since that explosive July 7, 2009 PVUSD Board meeting, where shouts of “Grand Jury!” and a sustained chant of “RECALL!” filled the air, Jacob Jensen, Superintendent Whitney, and the PVUSD Board have attempted quietly, but thoroughly, to sweep the matter under the rug through inaction, subterfuge, and in a few cases, outright lies to the public. Such is the state of affairs at PVUSD.

That’s why the long-awaited documents obtained through a series of multiple Public Records Request to Santa Barbara SD and Palo Verde Unified are so important. Truly, the documents do not disappoint. What follows is a definitive account of the $78,000 PSOJ severance package saga based on all the available legitimate, verifiable written documents. Finally, the truth will out…

Copyright © 2009 The Desert Independent

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